Do's and Don'ts of boiling crawfish for all you “weekend warriors” who might only boil once or twice a year.
by Chris Freret,
Owner of Geaux Creole Seasonings and winner of multiple crawfish cooking contests.
More crawfish are boiled Easter weekend than any other weekend of the year. Many people are boiling for the first time this season and some are giving it a try for the first time in their lives. As a helpful guideline, I have put together some DO'S and DON'TS to follow when boiling crawfish. I typically boil between 10,000 to 15,000 lbs a season and find that these methods are very effective. It is true that 100 people will boil crawfish 100 different ways. Many seasoned boilers will make arguments for and against some of the items listed below. Just know these work extremely well for me. This list is meant to be a guideline for our not so experienced boilers. These are my suggestions:
This is one of the most, if not the most, important steps in the entire process. Nothing will turn a crowd against you quicker than gritty, muddy crawfish. As a rule of thumb, wash and rinse at least 4 times or until you would drink the water they are sitting in.
So called "purging with salt" does not clean the poop vein and will only kill the smaller and weaker crawfish. The only way to clean the vein is to keep them alive for 12 to 14 hours while they empty their digestive tract.
With all these bigger pots people are buying, it is very easy to over water your pot. This will dilute any blend you are using causing you to have to add more cayenne or the dreaded liquid boil to get your heat level right. Geaux Creole's award winning seafood blend only calls for 6 gallons of water per 35 lbs of crawfish. The more water you add, the more diluted your spices will be. It's ok if 1/4 of your crawfish are out of the water when you first put them in. Give them a quick stir to quickly and mercifully kill them. They will still cook/steam.
Everyone does it differently. This is what works best for me. 3 mins at a rolling boil. That's it. You can't un-cook an over-cooked crawfish so if you don’t know how long they have been boiling, let it go a minute and turn it off. Under-cooked crawfish are still very good and definitely eatable. Over -cooked crawfish break apart when you are trying to peel them and can be mushy.
You would need 50 cobettes of corn per sack to get the water temperature down enough to halt the cooking process. A 10 lb bag of ice per sack of crawfish will do the trick. If you have measured your water level correctly, you will not have to worry about diluting your spices and you won't have all that wasted corn to deal with later.
If you are using a pre-cooked sausage, there is no need to boil it. All you are doing is removing the juices and fat causing it to be rubbery. Drop your cut sausage in at the same time you turn the water off. You will be pleasantly surprised.
You can't rush perfection and if you have followed all the above suggestions, you will want to let your crawfish soak for at least 20 mins. I go 30-40. If you have cooled your water temperature enough, you can soak them for hours with out causing them to turn to mush.
Geaux Creole seafood blend has one of the lowest salt contents on the market (10% per 1/4 tsp). This will allow you to boil another 35 lb sack in the same water using the same process as above. Just add 1/2 of a bag of seasoning and you are good to go.
It can be done but you will have salty crawfish. If you have to do it, add 10 lbs of cut potatoes to soak up some of the extra salt.
That's pretty much it. Good luck and happy boiling!